Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wine Country Weekend

Kevin at the Mumm Napa vineyard

I returned from the most pretentious sounding weekend in the world yesterday. That would be our "weekend in Napa". I find it almost impossible to say that phrase without clenching my jaw and talking like Thurston Howell, III. The actual experience wasn't nearly as pretentious as I thought it might be. Just a bunch of beautiful countryside and friendly people pouring tasty beverages.

The view from our hotel window.

We had all sorts of grand plans about all the things we would do while we were down there but we pretty much just did winery tours, wine tasting and lounging around. I only get to see Kevin about once a week so the best part of the vacation was just getting to spend a few days alone with him.

On Friday, we visited three wineries. The best of the bunch was Rubicon which is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. After our tasting there we went upstairs to poke around and look at one of the remaining 43 Tucker cars in the world and who do you think we pass on the stairs on the way up? That's right, Mr. Coppola himself. Turns out they actually live on the back part of the vineyard and CNN was there interviewing him for something. Besides being a great director the man grows some fine Cabernet Sauvignon. Mmmmmm. The grounds here are gorgeous too. The tasting fee is pricey and the wines aren't budget priced but they are definitely worth a try.
Me at Rubicon

Saturday morning I went for a quick run and saw my first vulture. It flew up into a tree and was staring at me as I ran. Damn! I am a slow runner but I am not THAT slow. Sorry Mr. Vulture! Still alive! I told him to go enjoy his roadkill breakfast and went about my merry way.
Kevin and I hit five wineries on Saturday. The first was Castello di Amorosa which is a giant castle that the owner had built a few years back. Everything down to the bricks, the doors and the roof tiles was brought over from old buildings being torn down in Europe. The construction was authentic down to the dungeon and torture chamber he had built. The tour was great but the wines weren't anything special. They even had an iron maiden that they are pretty sure was actually used at one point in time.

Wine caves at Castello di Amorosa

The iron maiden

We also found my new favorite winery on Saturday; Ehlers Estate. Wow! These were amazingly tasty wines and are served in a wonderful old stone building surrounded by vineyards. I could have happily spent all day there.

Saturday also brought us to the last kind of place I think of when I hear "Napa": Prager Winery and Port Works. It is housed in an old clapboard building, has layers of thick cobwebs in the windows, dollar bills tacked up and covering every available surface, and classic rock on the stereo. I haven't had a lot of experience with port but this stuff was delicious and one of the best experiences I had in wine country.

While California wine country is known for some of the best food in the country (The French Laundry is here after all) we balanced out the wine snobbishness by "keepin' it real" with food. We ate at In-N-Out Burger one night followed by a trip to the 7-11 for Spicy Big Bites and potato chips in the parking lot. We found a great little neighborhood breakfast spot one morning but also shoved McGriddle's from McDonald's down our gullets another morning. Next time we might try to hit up some of the nicer restaruants but on our last day in town we saw a drive-in that was advertising .99 cent corn dogs so The French Laundry just might have to wait.


Michael said...

Next time you are "keeping it real" you should try some slightly more real places. http://taylorsautomaticrefresher.com/ and http://www.travignerestaurant.com/pizzaria.htm are some places to keep in mind for next time.

The Devil's Starchy Fingers said...